This interdisciplinary project investigates the phenomenon of data visualization (DV) with a focus on learning, democracy and the premises for change and development afforded by digitalization. Through both theoretical and empirical studies, the project deals with the properties of graphs, charts and maps with regard to their semiotic affordances, their roles in the genres and social practices they are part of, and to their potentials in relation to current challenges and needs in society. The research group consists of nine active researchers, two of whom are international experts and one is a PhD fellow. Some of the studies in the project are carried out in collaboration with relevant partners from Norwegian society, such as Statistics Norway, the National broadcaster (NRK) and selected schools.
In November 2019, towards the end of the project period, results from all the nine work packages were presented at an open seminar in Oslo. The program for the seminar, which was aimed at stakeholders as well as the general public, gives a good picture of INDVIL's focused areas and results. In a session on DV in journalism and public information, findings related to trends in the use of DV in European newsrooms, new visual forms of storytelling in the news media, the status of universal accessibility of DV in national statistics institutes, as well as results from a user study on reading patterns and intelligibility barriers, were presented. In a session on the design and aesthetics of DVs, the metaphorical relationships that exist between DV and our visual experiences of everyday life were highlighted. Results from a phd-project focused on the semiotic qualities of a basic graphical unit, namely the connecting line, were also presented in this session. In a session related to DV in school and learning, the audience learned about how DV is introduced in Norwegian school classes, together with a discussion of the potentials and limitations of DV in relation to school subjects. The final session during the event in Oslo focused on the role that DV may have in relation to power and democracy. Here, members of the INDVIL team presented theories and cases illuminating the political aspects of the increasing use of numerical data and their visualizations in society. In addition to the presentations offered by the INDVIL team, a number of actors from relevant fields of practice contributed to the seminar. The ultimate goal for the event was to achieve a fruitful dialogue between researchers, relevant practitioners and the interested general public.
Other major sub-projects that help to summarize the INDVIL project, are a book project and a pedagogical web site. The edited volume Data Visualization in Society, published with Amsterdam University Press, was launched in April 2020, first online (open access) and then in print version. The book contains 26 chapters, nine of which are written by members of the INDVIL team. The other chapters are written by international research colleagues, covering a wide range of cases and perspectives. The well-known American DV expert Alberto Cairo writes in his preface to the book that it represents a significant contribution to the development of a philosophy, that is, a profound and critical thinking, around the phenomenon of data visualization seen in a social and cultural context.
The pedagogical web site is called Tallgrafikk.no, offering an introduction to various aspects of data visualization, aimed particularly at pupils in upper secondary schools in Norway. The site is developed in collaboration with our sister project in the UK, called Seeing Data, and it was launched in June 2019 (see https://tallgrafikk.no/).
Another channel for dissemination, is the project web site, where most of INDVIL's publications are accessible, see https://indvil.org/publications/. On this site, links to the two blogs associated with the research project are also provided.
Prosjektets deltakere har styrket sitt faglige nettverk og sin vitenskapelige kompetanse på feltet datavisualisering. Prosjektets stipendiat har innlevert sin phd-avhandling. Det internasjonale forskersamfunnet har fått utvidet sin kunnskapsbase omkring et viktig kulturfenomen og samfunnsfelt gjennom en vitenskapelig antologi samt en rekke artikler og konferansebidrag.
Designere, journalister og lærere har fått tilgang til INDVIL-prosjektets resultater gjennom foredrag, blogger og nettressursen Tallgrafikk.no. Mange av resultatene er egnet til å påvirke brukergruppenes refleksjon og praksis. På sikt vil INDVIL trolig ha størst samfunnseffekt gjennom skoleverkets læreplaner.
Kunnskapen som er generert er godt egnet til å guide slike planer, og dermed bidra til å styrke befolkningens evne til å lese, bruke og kritisere statistiske data i form av tallgrafikk. Gjennom en avtale med NDLA har lærere i VGS over hele landet fått tilgang til den pedagogiske nettressursen Tallgrafikk.no.
Today, new technology offers new forms of graphic representation of and interaction with quantitative data. The main aim of the project is to investigate how innovative forms of data visualization can influence public access to and use of publicly accessible data.
Through theoretical and empirical studies, the project will develop knowledge about potentials and challenges facing the use of digital data visualizations on public arenas of communication and information. The theoretical investigations will combine perspectives from linguistics, visual studies, aesthetics, epistemology, Sience and Tehcnology Studies as well as media sociology. The empirical studies relate to three arenas where people engage with data visualization: in classrooms, on journalistic news sites and on public sites for statistical information.
Researchers from Sheffield and Zürich contribute to the international comparison. The national collaboration is between University of Agder, University of Bergen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology and UNI Research Rokkan Center.
The project is theoretically based on theories of discource and of literacy. The discourse framework sets focus on the role of semiotic artefacts in processes of situated and culturally conditioned meaningmaking and interaction. The literacy framework sets focus on the ability to design, produce, distribute, interpret and apply texts and media products in ways appropriate for personal and social purposes.
The outcome of the project will be a refined and multi-disciplinary knowledge base for the design of effective data visualizations for public use, and for the strengthening of visual-numeric literacy inside and outside the educational system. Such a knowledge base will benefit designers and pedagogues in addition to students and researcher